The debut of SyFy’s serial adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s dystopian Sci-fi fare 12 Monkeys – which was based on Chris Marker’s short La Jetee – is hitting the small screen in less that two weeks. It’s certainly a risky move on the part of the network; taking a cult favorite, and spreading it out into an 10 part episodic series. However, that’s not to say that it can’t be done as we have already laid witness to this recently in the wonderful Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton starrer Fargo (based on the Coen Bros. cult favorite). Given that the Syfy channel seems to be in the process of synonymizing good original content with their name (…after the disastrous couple of years they’ve had) – it’s possible that 12 Monkeys could very well work out as an off-beat episodic sci-fi drama/thriller.
SyFy have been kind enough to offer the opening first nine minutes of the pilot for anyone who is interested in giving the show a chance (risky? perhaps, but it will be sure to get folk talking about it on the internet). Basically the opening of the show is similar to Gilliams’s 1995 movie, but with an introduction to the new cast and their integration into the bleak time-travelling dystopia. The opening starts out with a vision of the future (2043), in which most of civilization has been wiped out, and this features an interaction between time-traveler James Cole (Aaron Stanford) and virologist Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull), which is set in 2013. Subsequently, this evolves round whether Railly is able to help Cole save mankind, and thus, the future of the world.
Inevitably, despite the similarities to Gilliam’s movie, the opening hints that the show is veering off into a new territory, which seems suitable if they are after originality and ways to sustain the story-arc. If the show does establish its own identity from the groundings of Gilliam’s movie instead of trying to imitate it (which would be an exercise in futility), then there is a lot of potential for 12 Monkeys, depending on the direction the producers want to take the story in.
Although we have some obligatory post-apocalyptic clichés here; such as the visionary doctor and the esoteric drifter, the production values look good, the cast looks pretty solid, and they have managed to create bleak, dystopian landscape that was a stronghold throughout Gilliam’s movie. But, visual aesthetics aside, there has got to be a good story-arc that will hook that draws the viewers in, something new to offer than the usual post-apocalyptic affair.
Screenwriters Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett (who penned the pilot) have stated that Rian Johnson’s Looper is one of the main inspirations behind the show and there are myriad opportunities when using the time travelling theme as a plot device in sci-fi TV shows (et’s hope the writers don’t resort to copious amounts of deus ex machina throughout the series to tie up loose ends!), so it will be nice to see how the first season pans out.
Will you be watching based on what you have seen? Does the idea of a TV serial based on Terry Gilliam’s revered 12 Monkeys seem appealing to you? Let us know folks.
Here is the brief synopsis that SyFy released with the clip:
About ’12 Monkeys’: Based on the 1995 film directed by Terry Gilliam, 12 Monkeys follows the journey of a time traveler from the post-apocalyptic future who is on a mission to eradicate the source of a deadly plague. The series stars Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull, Noah Bean, and Kirk Acevedo. Additional cast members include Tom Noonan as the enigmatic face of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, and Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines, a dangerous and unstable mental patient.
You can view the nine minute intro of the show below:
12 Monkeys will air on January 16 at 9/8c on SyFy.
Via – Film